Written by Jane Siebert
We are here—can you believe it? Give yourself and everyone here a hand. And a hand for Brittany Price who has worked tirelessly and with deep dedication on her first in-person convention and her confidant, cheerleader, graphic designer and ever-ready partner, editor of the Messenger Beki Greenwood. This is their first hybrid convention, with all its additional things to prepare and plan for. Give a hand to Alex Dyer for his work on this and keeping things going as we keep going.
We have about the same number of virtual attendees as we do in person. This is remarkable, and makes it the best attended convention in many years. And give a hand to the planning committee, please stand, Kevin Baxter, David Brown, Dan Burchett, Jae Chung, Karen Conger, Susannah Currie, Alex Dyer, Kurt Fekete, Beki Greenwood, Jim Lawrence, Jennifer Lindsay, Connie McOsker, Jonathan Mitchell, Brittany Price, Amanda Riley, and Roslyn Taylor.
Now let us begin our opening “Rock It” presentation. Since this is my last convention as president, we are going to have fun with my favorite correspondence through rocks. Rocks represent natural truths, and they say if you hold a rock in your hand, you can feel the mountain it came from. I believe it and have felt it. Swedenborg wrote, “All things of nature are like sheaths around spiritual things… this is the cause of all the wonders and miracles in nature” HS §4524.
Many of you have brought rocks from the area you come from. There is a table in the display room with indelible markers for you to put the location or ministry your rock comes from. Then, remember and take your rock when we visit Wayfarers Chapel as they have a special place set for our rock garden to remind everyone of the prayers coming from all over convention for their big restoration project.
Tonight, I have asked one person from each state and one from each camp or other ministry to bring their rocks to the stage and tell us why they chose this rock and how it represents their state, camp, or group and what it says to them.
I will start with the rock chosen by my home church in Pretty Prairie, Kansas. They chose from many and this one represented the variety in our congregation, some bring shining souls, some are our solid dependable members, and others are the questioners who ask – what kind of rock is this and what does it mean? The rock from Pawnee Rock, Kansas, came from the large hill protruding from the flat prairie upon which their town was named. It reminds us to thank our Native American brothers and sisters for taming the land, watching over it, and teaching us how to care for it. For our land here where we are meeting, we thank the Tongva Nation.
I wrote this entry for our procession, to help us think about rocks as not just a rock, but a story of Opening of Convention 2022.
“Rock It” Procession
Rocks relate to natural truths.
Rocks have a lot to tell us about
ourselves and about others.
Some have holes in them
where they lost a part of themselves when life hit hard
but they are still beautiful.
Some have had all their rough edges worn off
from tumbling over and over in the stream of providence
and are smooth and gentle from the ride.
Some have cracks where they
butted up against another rock
and were hurt in the process,
but they are still strong.
Some have hidden beauty inside
and we have to help them
to crack open and see it.
Some are pretty on one side
and not so much on the other.
We need to be a little careful of people, I mean rocks like this.
Some are big and showy
and they draw our attention
and some need to be closely
examined to find their gift.
Some have to be washed off
because the dirt of life
hides their inner treasure.
Some are tiny and easily overlooked.
You might miss the jewel.
Not one is just a rock
if we take time and look closely.
Every rock has a story.
Thank you all for participating, and our thanks go out to more people who have worked to bring this convention about: Roslyn Taylor has organized our worship services. Worship leaders are Anna Woofenden, Amanda Riley, Dave Brown, Dan Burchett, Jonathan Mitchell, Jae Chung, Robert McCluskey, SCYL, and the Children. Kurt Fekete and Charlie Bauer are leading the SCYL teens, Holly Bauer is in charge of the children’s program, Tassy Farwell is the Convention assistant, Laurie Turley is our choir director, BJ Neuenfeldt is our accompanist, and Emily Woofenden is the virtual help desk.
We have seventeen volunteers offering to share their wisdom and truth through our keynote address and Mini Courses. Rebecca Esterson as keynote speaker, and Mini Course leaders: Colin Amato, Kevin Baxter, Dave Brown, Sage Cole, Paul Deming, Sue Ditmire, Renée Machiniak, Robert McCluskey, Jonathan Mitchell, Amanda Riley, Dell J. Rose, Shada Sullivan, Rich Tafel, Ros Taylor, and Ken Turley.
Our hosts and volunteers are from the Garden Church, the Agapao Church, and Wayfarers Chapel.
And we thank the many donations from around the continent that help keep costs down and support our youth to attend Convention. We are trying to keep ahead of the list with our posters and if you donate during convention, please add your name. All donations during convention from the Silent Auction in the display room, offerings, etc. will be divided equally between the Garden Church Meals Program and the Wayfarers Chapel Restoration fund. Our treasurer, Jennifer Lindsay, will accept donations at any time.
Read the full issue of the July / August 2022 Messenger
View the entire Welcome, Opening Worship, and Keynote Address:
Meet Jane Siebert
Rev. Jane Siebert is the outgoing president of the Swedenborgian Church of North America. She was president from 2015–2022.